Sun executive on the StorageTek acquisition

Sun executive on the StorageTek acquisition

Mark Canepa, executive vice president of Network Storage Products Group for Sun Microsystems, will be oversee the US$4.3 billion buyout of Storage Technology, and will likely lead the company once it becomes a part of Sun. Canepa spoke with Computerworld about how Sun plans to address StorageTek user concerns around service and support and product synergies.

Why buy StorageTek?

If you think about the computational side of the house and the middleware side of the house, the big piece of the puzzle we really needed to cover was the data side of the house. The regulatory bodies are causing a lot more data to be stored, managed, recovered, made compliant and kept track of.

It was very clear that for Sun to be a complete end-to-end player in the data center we had to go solve the data part. At Sun, we've been talking about doing a lot more in the managed services arena, but it's always been around managing our own stuff. Now we can become a lot more bullish around heterogeneity as part of our managed services capabilities. You can see we now we have a lot more umph around being a credible data management player as part of an overall datacenter capability.

How do you deal with the OEM agreements. StorageTek has a long standing agreement with HP. How do you maintain that?

I'm a big customer of HP. I buy a lot of LTO drives from HP. Now they're a customer of mine. HP is a large, big complex company and so are we. Most big, large, complex companies cooperate in some areas and compete in others. It's the same thing with IBM. We compete with them and they're a big customer of ours. I fully expect that to continue. That's certainly the intent of the relationship with HP.

Do you think it's going to be that simple: 'It's to both our benefit that we continue this relationship?'

Obviously, I've not gotten on the phone with HP yet. But I kinda doubt it would be any different -- that they would have a big knee-jerk reaction to this.

You have several competing products with StorageTek. Disk, storage management software, virtualiztion software, ILM. How will you deal with the overlap?

There's a little bit of overlap in some of our mid-range storage products. Mainly the FlexLine 200 and the 6130. But guess what? They're the same product. We both get them from Ingenio. So the ability to rationalize that will be pretty simple. I don't worry too much about that. If you look at our virtualization strategy, they're actually quite complimentary in terms of where we've been investing. StorageTek is a big customer of mine for SANFS and QFS. They bought Storability. I think this gives us phenomenal storage resource management capabilities -- an area where we weren't investing very heavily.

Personally, I'm just excited that I think we can finally assemble a critical mass in software capability. If there are some areas where there's some overlap -- there's so much stuff that has to get done -- I think we're going to be able to realign and reassign people in order to get what's needed to get done, done.

Lately you've acquired a lot of storage vendors. Some haven't produced much. How will you make this one work?

I actually feel our batting average has been more than OK in terms of the storage space over the last three or four years.

Analysts have said you've had some major merger failures over the past few years and that your executives don't take advice from outsiders. How do you respond to that?

There's got to be a balance. I spend a lot of my time out there talking to the analyst community and listening to the analyst community. I take their advice and then you have to blend their input with the other variables to do what we think is in the best interest of executing an overall Sun strategy.

Do you keep these two companies separate? Are you going to try to integrate them right away. What's your road map?

It's too early to really be able to talk about it. All we have is a definitive agreement. It's way premature to disclose what we might or might not do once we become an entity. Over the next few months it's going to take to go to close...we're going to start to ferret this thing out. At the end of the day, it's all about realizing the revenue upside synergies of having the two companies work together and realizing the cost synergies wherever we can make those happen. We're going to approach this in a very pragmatic way to put together those things that make sense to put together and leave alone those things that make sense to leave alone.

What do you say to StorageTek users? How do you alleviate their concerns that their services and support will be hurt when their vendor gets merged with Sun?

What we're going to tell those folks is we're going to take the best of both companies and make the other part of it behave like the good parts of the ones we've got. If they're happy with the service they get from StorageTek, I want to get that capability extended to the rest of the storage product line for sure and, to the extent possible, to the rest of Sun.

If there's a set of best practices StorageTek has, we're going to learn from that. If there's a set of best practices that Sun has that StorageTek can learn from, we're going to have them learn from those. At the end of the day, it's going to be about ... the execution of bringing these teams together.

How do you see this impacting users out there?

For the next several months they're going to be separate by law. Obviously, we're going to continue to drive with that. Post-close we want to be able to maintain the best of both companies. I know StorageTek has a phenomenal reputation for storage and support. Like I said, if I can take my product line and put it under those auspices, we can simply broaden that great service and support rep and be able to apply it to a broader set of products.

Do you see revenue growth opportunity as significant here?

We believe StorageTek has a wonderful sales force that had tape and a few other things to sell. Now we're going to give them a lot more to go sell. We're also going to arm them with a much broader value proposition. As opposed [to] them being armed with a tape and tape adjunct value proposition, they're going to be armed with an end-to-end systems value proposition.

I think it's going to open doors for them and us that weren't previously available to us and them.

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